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Giants vs. Cowboys: Week 15 storylines to follow


Following two weeks on the road, the Giants return to MetLife Stadium for a Week 15 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. It is the second meeting between the division rivals this season, with the Cowboys prevailing at home in Week 5.

The Giants fell to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, 37-21. Saquon Barkley (4.0 avg.) and Devontae Booker (7.0 avg.) combined for 120 yards on 24 carries, adding seven receptions for 59 yards and a score. But Chargers QB Justin Herbert threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while LA rushed for 152 yards on their way to the win.

The Cowboys are coming off a division win after they traveled to the nation's capital and defeated the Washington Football Team, 27-20. Dak Prescott completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, but the defense carried the day. The Cowboys forced four turnovers, including three fumbles, and registered five sacks.

Here are five storylines to follow:

QB situation

With Daniel Jones missing his second consecutive game, Mike Glennon got his second start of the season after being cleared from concussion protocol. The 32-year-old quarterback was 17 of 36 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Chargers, adding a 7-yard rushing score, his first career touchdown on the ground. Head Coach Joe Judge announced Wednesday that Jones still has not been cleared for contact, and that the plan is for Glennon to start against the Cowboys.

"Mike is going to start the game for us. This isn't being coy or anything," Judge said. "Every player who's at the game can play and we have plans for every player within a role of what they would do. Do we have anything bracketed out at this point in terms of is he going to play certain plays or anything? We do not. We do not, so we're getting Mike ready to play the game, but Jake will also be getting ready and prepare to play the game."

As Judge noted above, newcomer Jake Fromm will also prepare for Sunday's game and serve as Glennon's backup. Fromm was signed off of the Bills' practice squad two weeks ago and has yet to see any pro snaps since being taken in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

"He's a young quarterback, he's still developing in this league, he's new to this system," Judge said. "We're going to give him the opportunity to keep on working through it, but absolutely. For any player in any position, production in practice equals opportunity in games."

Dallas enters this game with mixed results in their pass defense. Their 250.8 passing yards allowed ranks 23rd, while their 18 passing touchdowns surrendered is tied for the sixth-best mark. Meanwhile the Cowboys' 20 interceptions is the most in the NFL, led by Trevon Diggs' league-leading nine.

6 Giants added to Reserve/COVID-19 list

Five Giants players have tested positive since Monday: wide receivers Kadarius Toney and John Ross, linebackers Cam Brown and Oshane Ximines, and cornerback Aaron Robinson. In addition, safety Xavier McKinney is a high-risk close contact. All six players have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Ross, Robinson, Brown, and McKinney played Sunday in Los Angeles against the Chargers. Toney and Ximines were inactive.

Coach Joe Judge would not disclose which of the players are vaccinated. Players who test positive after receiving a vaccination can return to the team after two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

As a close contact, if McKinney continues to test negative, he will be allowed to return to the Giants facility on Saturday and would be able to play on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in MetLife Stadium.

All the affected players are participating in meetings remotely.

Judge said the Giants are considering holding all meetings remotely, a common practice during the 2020 season.

Slowing down Parsons, Lawrence

Micah Parsons has taken the NFL by storm in recent weeks. After registering just 2.5 sacks in his first seven games, the rookie linebacker has become a force in the Dallas pass rush, picking up at least one sack in each of his last six games. During that span, Parsons has a total of 9.5 sacks 10 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits while forcing three fumbles. His 12 sacks on the year ranks seventh in the league.

"This guy coming out of college, we knew he was going to be an impact player," Judge said. "We had a lot of love for this guy in the building, a lot of respect for him. We knew he was going to be a good player. They're using him in different spots right now. (Cowboys Defensive Coordinator) Dan (Quinn) is doing a really good job of matching him up and letting him play with his pass rush skillset, playing coverage with speed. He's become a factor in a lot of different areas.

"You've got to know where he is on the field. They're moving him around, they're definitely doing a lot of things to help his skillset or use his skillset to help the defense. This guy is a phenomenal player."

In addition to Parsons, the Cowboys' pass rush recently got back its other dominant edge rusher in the form of DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence suffered a foot injury in the season opener, which forced him to miss the next 10 games. Since returning in Week 13, the veteran defensive end has one sack, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and two passes defended.

Los Angeles recorded two sacks and seven quarterback hits against the Giants' Mike Glennon last week. Center Billy Price was named Pro Football Focus' Secret Superstar of the Week after earning an elite 85.3 overall grade. Other notable performances in pass protection came from Will Hernandez (79.8 pass block grade), Ben Bredeson (80. 1), Andrew Thomas (73.1) and Matt Peart (73.7).

Meanwhile, the Giants put together one of their most productive days on the ground against the Chargers last week. The team's 135 rushing yards was the highest rushing total they've had over the last four weeks, and just the third time they've topped 100 yards since Week 3. It was the team's third-highest rushing total on the season.

Saquon Barkley carried the ball 16 times for a season-high 64 yards, adding three receptions for 31 yards and a receiving touchdown. His 95 total yards from scrimmage was his second-highest yardage total this year. Booker gained 56 yards on just eight carries with another 28 yards coming on four receptions. The two combined to average 5.0 yards per carry against the Chargers.

The Cowboys are middle of the pack in their run defense, as their 110.2 rushing yards allowed per game ranks 15th, while they are tied for 16th with 12 rushing scores surrendered. However, the unit does come in at No. 24 with their 4.5 yards allowed per carry.

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

Get pressure on Dak

Heading into Week 15, Big Blue ranks 25th in the league with 25 sacks. Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence racked up a sack and three quarterback hits against the Chargers, which helped him earn an 80.3 overall grade, including a 74.4 pass rush grade. The Giants' other sack came from rookie linebacker Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari has a team-high 7.5 sacks, third among all NFL rookies behind Parsons and Miami's Jaelan Phillips (8.5).

In last week's win over Washington, the Cowboys allowed four sacks of quarterback Dak Prescott. It was the second time in four weeks that Dallas allowed at least four sacks, as they allowed five sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11. In between those two outings, the Cowboys surrendered just one sack of Prescott in each of their Week 12 (Las Vegas Raiders) and Week 13 (New Orleans Saints) games.

Containing Dallas' playmakers

Ezekiel Elliott leads the Cowboys with 810 yards and eight touchdowns on 185 carries (4.4 avg.). Tony Pollard is averaging an impressive 5.6 yards on 107 carries, totaling 602 yards and two touchdowns. The pair of backs have also combined for 72 receptions for 504 yards and a score.

"Talking about their offense, obviously you start with the running game with these guys," Judge said. "They've got a very, very talented offensive line that gives them a lot of freedom to run the ball and a lot of freedom to sit back there and have good shots down the field with good protection. You've got to do a good job stopping the run.

"You have to eliminate explosive plays on this team. You have to do a good job tackling in space, whether it's the checkdowns, whether it's the deep shots down the field, whether it's the run game. You have to do a good job eliminating the yards after catch or the yards after contact with the run game.

In the pass game, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb leads the way with 64 receptions for 890 yards and six touchdowns. Lining up opposite Lamb is Amari Cooper, whose 675 receiving yards on 51 receptions ranks second on the team, while his six receiving touchdowns is tied with Lamb for the team lead. Third receiver Michael Gallup has at least five catches in each of the last four games, with a minimum of eight targets each game during that span. Not to be forgotten is tight end Dalton Schultz, who ranks second on the team with 53 receptions, totaling 584 yards and four touchdowns.

The Giants allowed Austin Ekeler and Co. to combine for 135 yards on the ground last week. In the pass game, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer combined for 14 receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns.


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